Budget 2021 invests in services, keeping Ottawa moving forward in the face of a pandemic


Draft Budget 2021 strikes a balance between supporting evolving community needs and delivering essential municipal services, while also advancing City Council’s priorities in the face of COVID-19. These investments are key to our community’s recovery and to Ottawa’s future prosperity.

The pandemic has led to revenue losses and unplanned costs for the City, resulting in a forecasted year-end deficit. The City acted quickly at the beginning of the pandemic, reducing costs to help maintain a stable financial position and mitigate expenses despite declining revenues. The first phase of the Ontario Safe Restart Agreement delivered $124.3 million in federal and provincial funding to Ottawa’s COVID-19 response efforts, helping to mitigate the impact on this year’s budget.

While Draft Budget 2021 protects and delivers the many municipal services residents depend on, new investments have been limited to ensure the City can continue to support public health measures and keep residents safe while positioning local businesses for economic recovery. The budget also limits the municipal tax increase to three per cent overall as directed by Council – worth an estimated $52.7 million. By maintaining the approved tax cap, Ottawa will remain affordable for residents.

While the focus is on delivering core municipal services, Draft Budget 2021 proposes investments in public transit, infrastructure, road maintenance, affordable housing and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Draft Budget 2021 proposes a $3.94 billion operating budget and a capital budget of $781 million. The three-per-cent tax increase amounts to an extra $115 for the average urban homeowner and $88 for the average rural homeowner.

This is the third budget in a row that features a record-setting investment in affordable housing. Draft Budget 2021 commits another $15 million to develop more affordable and supportive housing for residents most in need, matching funding delivered in both 2019 and 2020 for a three-year total of $45 million.

Ottawa has also secured $32 million in federal funding to help the City create affordable housing units quickly. With the City’s $15 million, that’s a record-setting $47 million capital investment in affordable housing in Ottawa. This capital investment will complement the $33 million that Draft Budget 2021 maintains in community-based housing and homelessness programs and supports.

The Draft budget 2021 includes $25 million in Community Funding to non-profit social services agencies to help residents facing the greatest need.

The City has also made the environment a priority, committing $2.6 million to fund 20 Energy Evolution projects that will help meet ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa. The funding comes from the surplus from last year’s Hydro Ottawa dividend, and will be combined with any surplus from next year’s dividend.

Draft Budget 2021 includes a $3 million investment to energy retrofit City facilities across Ottawa – an investment that will help reduce energy use and costs, generating a net payback in about eight years. The budget also includes $1.5 million to plant about 125,000 trees.

If approved, the road resurfacing budget will be $45 million. For rural communities, $40 million in infrastructure is budgeted, on par with the yearly average of $39.7 million. Cyclists and pedestrians will see $12.6 million to improve active transportation facilities.

In response to severe winter weather challenges over the last years, a 2.8-per-cent increase for winter operations would bring next year’s total to $81.5 million.

To protect the health and well-being of Ottawa’s growing population, the City would hire 14 paramedics and procure emergency vehicles.

Stage 2 of Ottawa’s LRT system continues moving forward, with funding to expand service east by 12 kilometres and five stations, west by 15 kilometres and 11 stations, and south by 12 kilometres and eight stations – including a link to the Ottawa International Airport. Once Stage 2 is completed, it will feature 24 new stations along 44 kilometres of rail, bringing 77 per cent of residents within five kilometres of LRT.

Draft Budget 2021 includes $6 million to deliver expanded rail service on Lines 1 and 2. It includes $6.2 million to support expanded service as part of Stage 2 and nearly $24 million to purchase and install fare control equipment for all three extensions, along with updates to allow Open Payments.

Draft Budget 2021 commits $13 million to improve Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations, adding canopies and information panels, and replacing and adding an elevator at Blair Station.

The cost of the EquiPass and the Community Pass for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients will remain frozen at 2018 rates for another year.

Draft Budget 2021 would include close to $8 million in renewal projects for parks, recreation facilities, theatres, museums, rinks and other such facilities across Ottawa.

The proposed budget will be considered by all Standing Committees in the coming weeks, then adopted by Council on Wednesday, December 9. You can have your say about the budget:

  • Register as a public delegation to make a five-minute presentation at a budget review meeting of any committee, board or commission. Visit ottawa.ca/budget to learn about meeting dates.
  • Contact your City Councillor to express your views.
  • Tweet @ottawacity using the hashtag #ottbudget.
  • Call 3-1-1 / 613-580-2400 (TTY: 613-580-2401).


“With continued partnership from the federal and provincial levels of governments, staff have delivered a budget that maintains the municipal services residents rely on. It’s a plan to continue to grow the city, investing in infrastructure to connect neighbourhoods and build communities that are resilient, and supporting those in need with a record investment in affordable housing.”

Mayor Jim Watson

“The year ahead poses challenges and contains many unknowns given the global uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, but decades of careful financial stewardship have made Ottawa resilient. The Draft Budget 2021 is in line with Council’s direction to limit tax increases to no more than three per cent and strikes a balance between supporting community needs during the pandemic, ensuring the essential delivery of City services for our residents and advancing Council’s key priorities for our future prosperity and economic recovery.”

City Manager Steve Kanellakos